My trip to the USA lately has opened my eyes to a whole lot of things. I’ve always had this idea that Australian anglers could benefit from doing things a little different and a little more like the Japanese or the Yanks but having now actually used these techniques to catch fish and understand why they use them that idea is even stronger.
One of the things that stuck out the most was to do with jigheads. This article is not intended to be a negative one but more a “call to arms” for Aussie anglers to start thinking outside the box and hopefully Aussie manufacturers to start innovating products just for us.
Unfortunately, the truth is though that Australian jigheads are in the dark ages. We have a few different manufacturers that are all making the same thing. Take a hook. Mould some lead onto it. Put through plastic with hook exposed. From there the angler does their best to work that “exposed hook with lead moulded on” around whatever structure is in front of them whether that is rock, timber, weed etc.
Sure, there are usually a few weird and wonderfuls hanging on the wall at your local tackle store but we seem to be slow to give them a go but even your average angler in the US uses those kinds of things regularly.
I could easily now move into a giant rambling 10000 word thesis on this topic but for now I will start with just one idea that I have no doubt will be one of the next great leaps in Australian angling. Weedless.
Worms hooks are readily available at most tackle stores these days but even I had only scratched the surface with regard to the idea behind them before my trip. We will stick them through the plastic so that they lay kind of flat. In other words, the hook isn’t totally exposed, and the lure wouldn’t pick up as much weed.
Whereas the secret to making lure truly weedless is burying the hook point back in the plastic. Ever seen those epic Yankee hook sets where they take a step back and go at it full swing? Most of the time that is because they are trying to punch the hook point out of the plastic and drive it home.
Ever seen the Yanks fishing 50 pound braid straight to the hook and thought…. gee, those Largemouth Bass must be stupid if they can’t see line that thick? That’s because they are fishing weedless through weed so thick it would be nearly impossible for any fish to tell what was weed and what was line (plus the weed is so thick you need that 50 pound braid to get them out once you hook them).
LM Bass are really not as dumb as we have been led to believe and I’m really starting to wonder if Aussie fish like Bream, Bass or any other popular fish won’t fall for the same tactics.
For example, the first thing I am going to try this summer is going really weedless for Bream and Bass and looking for ways to fish inside what we anglers usually fish the outside edge of. I spend plenty of time looking for good weedbeds and then only fish a small portion of it. I have no doubt there are big fish feeding deep inside them but we only ever scratch over the top and around the edges.
Imagine it were a snag. You can fish around it and you might get a few small ones and occasionally you might get a big one that is around the outer limits but everybody knows that the really deep cast up “suicide alley” is where the big fish hang. Why don’t we look at weedbeds like that? Slightly heavier gear (to set the hook through the plastic as much as anything) and a “pegged Texas rigged” plastic will be one of my go to setups on the Basin and in the Bass dams in the next few months.
Weedless around weedbeds is just the start. Once the hook is buried in the plastic it pretty much takes that brutal hook set to get it out and the plastics will go through anything including timber, reeds pylons…. hell, I’m pretty sure you could walk it across the top of a full oyster rack.
From there you start moving into other things like Tungsten in place of lead because tungsten is heavier and denser, meaning you can make it smaller for the same weight and it transmits the bottom structure through the rod better (on the downside more expensive and harder to work with).
Then there are various head designs and gismos for holding the plastic to the jighead. It is actually hard to find a “regular” jighead in the US than one of the thousand fancy designs available. All of which have a purpose and excel at that purpose.
The next thing I would have to note is that if there are a few ideas here that have struck home and you want to give it a try, do not buy any American made stuff! the hooks are too big and heavy gauge to be useful in Australia and while some of the stuff would be suited to Snapper it is usually made for freshwater and will rust if you put it in the boat with the intention of going out in saltwater.
As always the Japanese brands seem to be where to look as they have the smaller sizes and lighter gauge that won’t rust as bad. But my true dream is that Aussie tackle makers jump on board and start making these kind of things just for us by using their pro staff to come up with ideas and designs that will be even better than having to make it ad hoc ourselves.